Plex makes its adaptive streaming tech available to all

Plex Pass subscribers can use hardware-accelerated streaming too.

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If you own a giant personal media collection (legally or otherwise), few services are as useful as Plex. The media server and streaming apps combo makes it easy to watch your favorite movies and TV shows from anywhere, and on any device. Now, the company behind Plex is adding a few nifty features to keep your streams running smoothly. The first is Auto Quality, which had previously been limited to Plex Pass subscribers. Switch it on and Plex will automatically adjust video quality depending on your connection and how many other people are hammering your Plex server.

The second addition is hardware-accelerated streaming. It's a technical change that takes advantage of the dedicated video decoder and encoder hardware support in your Windows, Mac or Linux PC. Hardware acceleration assists with transcoding, a form of video conversion that's often required to stream your chosen files properly. The result should be faster and smoother playback, while reducing the hit on your PC's usual performance. There are some drawbacks, however; Plex says some videos may appear "more blurry or blocky," especially at lower resolutions. Oh, and this feature is exclusive to Plex Pass subscribers, at least for now.

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